August 30, 2012
Both the state and third party voter registration groups are claiming victory tonight over a judge’s decision to permanently ban a 48 hour deadline for turning in voter registration applications. While each side says they won, the state has agreed to pay most of the legal fees.
Back in May, the League of Women Voters celebrated the end of a one year hiatus from voter registration drives.
The league stopped signing up new voters in 2011, citing a new 48 hour deadline on turning in voter applications. The league sued, and a federal judge issued a temporary ban on the deadline. Now the ban is permanent.
“We are just so grateful this is now a permanent injunction,” said Jessica Lowe Minor with the League.
The league is claiming victory, because it now has 10 days to turn in applications, but Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state, is also claiming victory.
“Out of the 80 provisions done last year by the legislature 79 have already been pre-cleared,” said Cate.
Cate says the main focus of this provision of the law was requiring voter groups to register with the state, which the judge upheld when he banished the deadline.
“Now when third party groups collect voter applications they are going to have to identify themselves on these applications,” said Cate.
But the League asks, if the state won, why did they agree to pay nearly 40-thousand dollars of the League’s court costs?
“In our mind that is definitely an indication that this is a victory for us,” said Lowe Minor.
“We came to an agreement with the plaintiffs. It was as much an agreement with our side as it was with them,” said Cate.
Cate accuses the League of pulling a publicity stunt when it stopped registering voters, because the max fine for missing the deadline is a thousand dollars a year. The League says it’s been registering voters for 72 years and the decision to stop wasn’t made lightly.
A reduction in early voting days is the only provision left that hasn’t been finalized by a judge. The provision cuts the number of days but allows election supervisors to keep the same number of early voting hours. The state is expecting a decision in September.